With over 17,000 islands spread across the heart of the Indo Pacific, Indonesia is the ultimate liveaboard scuba diving destination. Surrounded by the rich waters of the Coral Triangle, Indonesia proudly boasts the most bio-diverse marine environment on Earth. From the rich reefs of Raja Ampat to the bizarre creatures of the Lembeh Strait, Indonesia has something for everyone.
From Papua province in the east to Sumatra in the west, Indonesia is similar in distance as New York to Los Angeles. With more than 100 liveaboards in the country, most areas are serviced for divers. Popular destinations include Komodo, Raja Ampat, Alor, the Banda Sea, Cendrawasih Bay, and the Forgotten Islands. A range of boats visit North and South Sulawesi, East Kalimantan, Halmahera, and other destinations are constantly being explored. There is a boat and an itinerary for everyone.
The Alor region encompasses a group of islands off the eastern end of Flores. This area is mainly visited during April/May and October/November when many boats are transiting between Komodo and Raja Ampat. This area is home to a wonderful mix of fast current/big fish diving as well as world class critter dives.
Located in the Banda Sea, there are two arcs of small islands stretching from Alor to Ambon. Clear water, steep walls, large schools of fish, and the possibility of encountering hammerheads are the main draws of this area. Many boats visit the area in March – May and from Sept to Nov each year when the sea is calm. This is a popular itinerary during the transit season between Raja Ampat and Komodo
One of the gems of Indonesia, the Komodo National Park is well known amongst divers worldwide. Boasting a blend of world class critter diving and incredible reefs, Komodo is truly a unique destination. Diving this destination by liveaboard is truly the only way to experience the best of Komodo. Fast action sites such as Crystal and Castle Rock or Batu Bolong are home to an endless variety of fish. Manta Alley and Makassar Reef are well known manta ray hotspots. Not to be outdone by the action, Horseshoe Bay, Wainilu, and Sangeang Volcano offer some of the best critter diving in Indonesia. The only way to visit all of these amazing sites is with a well appointed liveaboard.
Water temperatures are typically from the 25C to 29C throughout the country. However, along the southern coast of the Nusa Tenggara region (Komodo, Flores, Alor, Bali) the temperatures can fall to 17 – 23 C during the months of June to September. Check with your operator what temperatures are typical for your intended itinerary.
It’s possible to dive Indonesia 365 days a year, no matter the season, there is always a great place to dive. November to March tends to be the wet season in many of the western areas of Indonesia such as Komodo, Sulawesi, and the Alor area. However, during these months Raja Ampat, Ambon, Cendrawasih Bay, and Halmahera are great places to dive. June to August brings in the southern wind which makes it difficult to dive in the West Papua areas but it’s peak diving season in Komodo and Sulawesi.
The jewel in the crown of Indonesia’s marine environment, Raja Ampat is a true world class destination. With a fish count among the highest in the world and more than 500 species of coral, Raja Ampat is diving bliss. Accessible all year round, Raja is large enough to be broken into 3 main regions: Misool in the south, Dampier Strait in the middle, and the North. Liveaboard diving is the only way to access all of these areas on one trip. Each area offers it’s own unique attractions underwater and on land. From the amazing karst islands of Wayag in the north to the beauty of Balbulol on the south, Raja Ampat is as beautiful above as it is below the surface.
Lembeh Strait, Bunaken National Park, Bangka, and the Siau Island chain make up one of the most varied itineraries in Indonesia. Sheer walls, incredible critter life, and stunning coral gardens provide a little bit of everything for everyone. The Lembeh Strait is world famous as a muck diving location, a veritable mecca for underwater photographers. The Bunaken National Park boasts an action packed variety of current swept walls, beautiful corals, and some of the most friendly turtles in the world. The rarely visited Siau Island chain is a series of volcanic islands offering crystal clear water, fish packed pinnacles, and the opportunity to dive on an active volcano.
Cendrawasih Bay, Halmahera, Kalimantan, Triton Bay, and South Sulawesi are areas that are often explored by liveaboard. These areas are not as busy as the more popular destinations above, however, they do offer fantastic exploratory cruises. With the amount of liveboards in Indonesia it’s not difficult to find boats willing to visit these more remote locations.